And now it’s time to look at the Marvel sales distribution charts for December 2017.

Standard disclaimers: The numbers are based on the Diamond sales charts as estimated by the very reliable John Jackson Miller. These charts are pretty accurate for U.S. Direct Market sales with the following caveats: 1) you can add ~10% for UK sales, which are not reflected in these charts; 2) everyone’s best guess is you can add ~10% for digital sale – while some titles do sell significantly better in digital (*cough* Ms. Marvel *cough*), that’s the average rule of thumb; 3) it’s not going to include reorders from subsequent months, although reorders will show up in subsequent months if they’re high enough.  So if you’re a monster seller in Southampton and it took the US audience 3 weeks to reorder, it’s probably not going to be reflected here.

What’s a sales band? It’s another way to have a higher level view of the market.  The general idea is to divide the market into bands of 10K copies sold and see how many issues are in each band.  How many issues sold between 90-99K copies, 80-89K copies, etc. etc. In very broad terms, the market is healthier when there are several titles selling in the 70K-100K+ range because titles that move a lot of copies give the retailers some margin of error on their ordering.  When you see titles selling in the 20-29K band and especially below, there’s a pretty good chance a lot of retailers aren’t ordering those titles for the shelf (pull box/pre-order only) or minimal shelf copies at best.

Hey!  Marvel has an issue topping 100K again!

Well of course, it’s a #1.  Don’t be silly.  You knew #1 + variant covers was going to be involved here, but they sure didn’t have that kind of sell-in last month.  Phoenix Resurrection ordered into the Direct market just about 145K copies.  Not Doomsday Clock / Metal numbers, but close.  Because people never get tired of Jean Grey coming back from the dead, apparently.  You know the drill with Marvel #1s… but if it has a 50% drop off, that’s ~72K copies for #2 and that’s a lot more than Marvel’s able to sell these days without a #1.  So we’ll see.  Retailer buzz on it has been positive.

So let’s follow protocol and look at the Events/#1s/variants vs. the “normal” ongoing issues.

The sheer number of #1s is down in December.  The other big launches were Marvel-Two-In-One and Venom, Inc. Alpha in the 60-69K bracket.  I’m also counting Tales of Suspense #100 in the #1 category, for its launch, though it was merely at ~25.3K.  Nothing really bodes well, but you’d like to think Two-In-One at least has a chance of settling down just above 30K, which amounts to a win these days.

The top-selling ongoing title is… SURPRISE, it’s Amazing Spider-Man, not Star Wars.  #792 was just under 62K, selling into the DM at roughly 1000 more copies than Star Wars.  Don’t get too excited, though.  #793 was back down to the usual ~53K.  Nothing else cracked 50K and precious little cracked 40K.

Marvel is more or less centered between 10K-39K for its line.  Please do not visualize that No Event chart as a hand, this is a family website.

Outside of the potential of Phoenix Resurrection to move some issues for its brief run, there’s not a lot to be excited about here.  Even good ‘ole reliable Star Wars is within standard attrition distance of falling below 60K in 2-3 months.

There is a malaise over Marvel and they need to refresh, relaunch or reboot ASAP.

Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work?  Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics


  1. Rebooting the Marvel Universe would provide only a short-term sales boost. Marvel needs to address their systemic issues before they force more retailers out of business.

  2. This is what makes Quesada’s recent comments about the importance of the “hard core” audience so bizarre. No company has done as much as consistently as Marvel has to alienate their fan base over the last 10 years or so. DC has made some huge changes, like CRISIS and Rebirth, but they pretty quickly get back to trying to please the fanboys. Marvel just keeps poking them in the eye with a sharp stick.


  3. I only buy tpbs these days but generally am surprised to be happy enough with the Marvel titles I buy. Nice looking GOTG comics recently, and same with pre-Waid Captain America, with Pina and Suiz. I was following the Lemire books, and now will probably pick up the Cates. I didn’t like Aaron’s Thor because of preachy Roxxon as a recurring villian.
    If good creatives are there, I’ll buy them; particularly if they’re genre writers, if they’re hitting a good crime, sci-fi or cosmic note. Good genre work with solid creatives is my key.

  4. Marvel is at least finally divested of their biggest and worst (non) event writer, though. With him gone and headed to DC, perhaps they can save the sinking sink.
    Problem is, what happens to those people like me that abandoned marvel and exclusively read DC because of that guy’s complete inability to write?
    For myself, I’m more than a little wary about dipping my toes back in the water at Marvel.
    …been poked too many times with that stick MBunge mentioned.

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